Friday, August 12, 2005

Races hated by my mother, who is now dead.

My Russian-born mother had an impressive range of ethic prejudices. You'd have a hard time beating her collection for sheer breadth and originality. She was no ordinary race-hater. Mind you, she never ACTED on these feelings, but she sure was vocal about them.

For convenience, I've divided up the ethnicities by continent of origin. I've also noted traditional Russian enimities with a single asterix(*). Since she spent her formative years in Japan, I've marked traditional Japanese enimities with a double asterix (**). The rest are just run of the mill racist.


Poles (*) (Amusing anecdote: Mom and her Russian girlfriend ended up sharing a cabin on a cruise ship with two Polish women on some old people package tour. Cleverly, Mom and her friend talked shit about how stupid Poles were in front of these women, thinking they wouldn't understand.

If my Mom hadn't been an ignorant dumbass, she would have know Polish is not hugely dissimilar from Russian, and actually, a lot of Poles SPEAK Russian. One of the old Polish ladies busted her. Awesome.)

Germans (*)
Croats (*) (I doubt she could identify who the Croats actually are, other than they are the enemies of her pal the Serbs, who she has an affection for as fellow Orthodox Christians)

Russians (If they had emigrated after, say, 1960, if they were too Soviet, if they were too "American", if they were Jews, if they had settled in Pennsylvania, if they had lives that weren't centered around sustaining Russian kitsch, Old Believers, if they had emigrated through Shanghai or Europe instead of Japan...I could go on.)

Chinese (*) (**)
Vietnamese (*)
Koreans (**)
(Further racist cruise fun with Mom: So this cruise (I think it's the same one I mentioned above) has a port of call in Korea. Mom gets pissed that a)the Koreans wouldn't take dollars and b)THEY DIDN'T SPEAK JAPANESE (which my mom spoke reasonable well). Her reasoning was that Koreans lived under Japanese occupation for hundreds of years, so it entirely makes sense that one could communicate with any Korean walking down the street by jabbering Russian accented Japanese at them while waving dollars in their face.

Also, nevermind that the Japanese pretty much treated most Koreans like cattle and forced Korean women into postitution, so the percentage of Koreans still alive that might remember the Japanese occupation would really want to stand around and rap IN Japanese. Oh, and she would frequently bust out in Japanese to random Asian Americans without first determining what their national origin was -- I'm talking toll takers, store clerks, whoever. Doesn't matter.)

Phillipinos (*)

Catholics (*)(Except French)
Jews (*)
Russian Orthodox (Due an obscure issue of doctrine, there are two Russian Orthodox churches in the US. One recognises the Patriach of Moscow, while other one thought he was a puppet of the Reds. Mom was with the anti-commie group and wasn't
terribly keen on the pro-Moscow group. Of course she picks the one that goes by the Old Calender so we had to celebrate Xmas on January 7th. We also had the Imperial Crest of the Romanovs hanging over the fireplace, or so we thought. I think that it actually was the Hapsburg Double Eagle, which would have drove her crazy, being Austrian and all.)

Russian "Old Believers"

Freemasons (*)

The Americas
She had a strange ambiguous feeling towards Latin Americans. I think she defaulted out of laziness to hatred of Mexicans in her day-to-day life. But she had a thang for swarthy crooners with graying around the temples. Mario Lanza (an Italian, who in my mom's eye were Mexicans, unless they were the Pope.) was a fav.

Not out and out hatred, but not what I would call a fan. Did have a thing for Harry Belfonte and Arthur Ashe.

The lucky races of the earth that could call Lena Mills their friend.
Basically, she was a silk route kind of gal (until you hit China, then all bets were off)

ARABS!!! Probably because there is a sizeable Orthodox preseance in the Eastern Meditterrean and Middle East. My mom looked a little Arab, which might have had something to do with it.

CENTRAL ASIAN TURKOMEN (!!!!!!): As former subjects of the Czar, I ask you, what's not to love?




(Some) Russians


Various non-Catholic Slavs (Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians. Poles were still Poles, however, Orthodox or not.)


Georgians (As in Tbilisi, not Crunk)

Canadians, because really, they are a very nice bunch of people.

My mother died four years ago. I can now live openly as a Jew AND Korean.

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Blogger bjnd4iykc26vnih said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous karena said...

I can say this about your dearly departed Ma, she did have her opinions and seemed, just from reading your stories, to have inflicted them upon everyone. You know, sometimes women from her background, immigrants who have experienced all kinds of racisim themselves, cloak themselves in this non-sensical bullshit of a security blanket. I know of a woman who was an Austiran Jew, who came here by way of Candada and insisted that all the "hippies and n----ers should be put in concentration camps. She, whose family escaped the concentration camps, espoused these theories at the beauty salon. There is no figuring old women who have faced extreme prejudice in their lifetimes except to figure they adopted a "caste system" that assuaged their own anguish.

The human condition is odd at best and at its worst when inflicted upon others.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Crackpot Press said...

I think she was on to something about the hippies in the concentration camps.

Is it too late to revisit that thought?

I just want the world to smell better.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Nedhead said...

Without our diffences, who then would we hate?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Nedhead said...

maybe people who can't spell properly?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

Karena --
I can't say my mom experienced much racism. I think a lot of it had to do with being from being not hugely well educated and moving from an ethnic enclave in San Francisco to an affluent suburb (though we weren't particularly affluent) where her peers, other moms, were younger and largely well-educated. I think that just made her more insular. She was also nuts, so that didn't help.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lil Bobo:

My grandfather was a second generation Catholic Slav/American, but that was immediately lost on us when he married my second generation Protestant, German grandmother. Then, my mother mixed with my father's English/Irish American lineage--it might date back to the first settlement days. So, I ended up a Slavik, German, English, Irish American with an allegiance to the Presbyterian church because it came recommended by our neighbor and had ample parking. Thus, where did I stand with your mom?--that's my primary concern here.


10:37 PM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

As she has gone on to the great samovar in the sky, I can only guess. She probably would have called you "American", which meant whitebread Protestant. These were the women she played tennis with. Actually most post-national, assimilated Americans were fine with her. Other immigrants, forget it.

She seemed to really like Oakies of all people, probably because my family lived in Bakersfield before I was born, and there are a lot of peckerwood aggies down there. Nice folks, actually.

10:52 PM  

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